Marvel Studios

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Marvel Studios, LLC
Industry Film
Genre Superhero fiction
Founded 1993; 22 years ago (1993)
Headquarters 500 S. Buena Vista Street,
Burbank, California[1]
, United States
Key people
Kevin Feige
Louis D'Esposito
Products Motion pictures
Parent The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)

Marvel Studios, LLC[1] originally known as Marvel Films from 1993 to 1996, is an American motion picture studio based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Formerly a division of Marvel Entertainment, the studio is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, itself a wholly owned division of The Walt Disney Company, with film producer Kevin Feige serving as President.[3]

Marvel Studios includes Marvel Music and MVL Productions LLC. The studio has been involved in three Marvel-character film franchises to have exceeded one billion dollars in North American revenue: the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Marvel Cinematic Universe multi-film franchises, with X-Men and Spider-Man licensed out to 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures, respectively. Marvel Studios' films are distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures from 2008 to 2011; Universal Pictures for 2008's The Incredible Hulk; and Sony Pictures for the Spider-Man film scheduled for release on July 28, 2017.[4]

Marvel Studios has released 12 films since 2008 within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man (2008) to Ant-Man (2015). These films all share continuity with each other.


Timely era[edit]

During what is known as Marvel's Timely era, Captain America was licensed out to Republic Pictures for a serial just for the free advertising. Timely failed to provide any drawing of Captain America with his shield or any further background, and Republic created a whole new background for the character, and portrayed the character using a gun.[5]

Marvel Entertainment Group's initiative[edit]

In the late 1970s up to the early 1990s, Marvel Entertainment Group (MEG) sold options to studios to produce films based on Marvel Comics characters. Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s superheroes, was optioned in the late 1970s, and rights reverted to Marvel without a film having been produced within the allotted timeframe. From 1986 to 1996, most of Marvel’s major characters had been optioned, including the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Iron Man.[6] A Howard the Duck film made it to the screen in 1986, but was a box-office flop. New World Entertainment purchased MEG in November 1986[7] and moved to produce films based on the Marvel characters. It released The Punisher (1989) before MEG was sold to Ronald Perelman's Andrews Group. Two other films were produced: Captain America (1990) released in the United Kingdom on screens and direct to video in the United States, and The Fantastic Four (1994), not intended for release. Marvel's rival DC Comics, on the other hand, had success licensing its properties Superman and Batman into successful film franchises.[8]


Marvel Films[edit]

Following Marvel Entertainment Group's (MEG) ToyBiz deal in 1993, Avi Arad of ToyBiz was named President and CEO of Marvel Films division and of New World Family Filmworks, Inc., a New World Entertainment subsidiary. New World was MEG's former parent corporation and later a fellow subsidiary of the Andrews Group.[9] Marvel Productions became New World Animation by 1993 as Marvel would start up Marvel Films including Marvel Films Animation.[9][10][11][12] New World Animation (The Incredible Hulk), Saban (X-Men), and Marvel Films Animation (Spider-Man) each produced a Marvel series for television.[13] It was Marvel Films Animation's only production.[11][12] By the end of 1993, Arad and 20th Century Fox struck a deal to make a film based on the X-Men.[14]

New World Animation and Marvel Films Animation were sold along with the rest of New World by Andrews Group to News Corporation/Fox as announced in August 1996. As part of the deal, Marvel licensed the rights to Captain America, Daredevil and Silver Surfer to be on Fox Kids Network and produced by Saban. New World Animation continued producing a second season of The Incredible Hulk for UPN.[13][15]

Marvel Studios[edit]

In August 1996, Marvel created Marvel Studios, an incorporation of Marvel Films, due to the sale of New World Communications Group, Inc., Marvel's fellow Andrews Group subsidiary in film and television stations, to News Corporation/Fox. Filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise money to finance the new corporation, Marvel, Isaac Perlmutter's Zib, Inc. and Avi Arad sold Toy Biz stocks, which Marvel had started and took public in February 1995.[6][16] Toy Biz filed an offering of 7.5 million shares with a closing price of $20.125 at the time, making the offering worth approximately $150 million. Toy Biz sought to sell 1 million shares, and Marvel sought to sell 2.5 million shares.[17]

Jerry Calabrese, the president of Marvel Entertainment Group, and Avi Arad, head of Marvel Films and a director of Toy Biz, were assigned tandem control of Marvel Studios. Under Calabrese and Arad, Marvel sought to control pre-production by commissioning scripts, hiring directors, and casting characters, providing the package to a major studio partner for filming and distribution. Arad said of the goal for control, "When you get into business with a big studio, they are developing a hundred or 500 projects; you get totally lost. That isn't working for us. We're just not going to do it anymore. Period."[6] Marvel Studios arranged a seven-year development deal with 20th Century Fox to cover markets in the United States and internationally.[18] In the following December, Marvel Entertainment Group went through a reorganization plan, including Marvel Studios as part of its strategic investment.[19] By 1997, Marvel Studios was actively pursuing various film productions based on Marvel characters, including the eventual films X-Men (2000), Daredevil (2003) and Fantastic Four (2005). Unproduced projects included Prince Namor, based on the character Namor and to be directed by Philip Kaufman, and Mort the Dead Teenager, based on the comic book of the same name and written by John Payson and Mort creator Larry Hama.[20] Marvel was developing a Captain America animated series with Saban Entertainment for Fox Kids Network to premiere in fall 1998. However, due to the bankruptcy the series was canceled after only character designs and a one-minute promotional reel were made.[21][22][23]

Licensing movies[edit]

The first film licensed by Marvel Studios was Blade, based on the vampire hunter Blade. The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Wesley Snipes as Blade. It was released on August 21, 1998, grossing $70,087,718 in the United States and Canada and $131,183,530 worldwide.[24] In 1999, Marvel licensed Spider-Man to Sony.[25]

Blade was followed by X-Men, which was directed by Bryan Singer and was released on July 14, 2000. X-Men grossed $157,299,717 in the United States and Canada and $296,250,053 worldwide.[26] The Marvel films Blade and X-Men demonstrated that blockbuster films could be made out of comic book characters not familiar to the general public.[27]

Leading up to X-Men‍ '​s release, Marvel Studios negotiated a deal with then-functional Artisan Entertainment, successful with the low-budget The Blair Witch Project, to give the studio rights to 15 Marvel characters including Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Deadpool. With the deal at the time, 24 Marvel properties were then in various stages of development. Brian Cunningham, editor of Wizard comic book magazine, believed that Avi Arad was successful in organizing strategic alliances and exercising fiscal responsibility in multimedia expansion. Cunningham said of Arad’s leadership of the studio following its parent company’s near-bankruptcy, "The fact the X-Men is primed to be the biggest movie of the summer speaks volumes about the turnaround for Marvel. From my observation, he's focused on a lot more in diversifying Marvel, doing things that proliferate Marvel characters in the mainstream." Arad sought to protect Marvel’s image by serving as executive producer in all Marvel film productions and being responsible for crossover marketing between Marvel properties. Arad had properties set up at different studios to create momentum so one studio would not cannibalize efforts with one property for the sake of another.[28] By 2001, the success of Marvel Entertainment’s Ultimate Marvel comics created leverage in Hollywood for Marvel Studios, pushing more properties into development.[29]

The next blockbuster film licensed from Marvel Studios was Spider-Man by Columbia Pictures, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. The film was released on May 3, 2002, grossing $403,706,375 in the United States and Canada and $821,708,551 worldwide.[30] The early success of Spider-Man led the film's studio to issue a seven-figure advance for a sequel. Arad spoke of the deal, "Movies make sequels. Therefore, it's a big economic luxury to know that a movie's going to get a second and third. This is a business of precedence."[31] According to a Lehman Brothers analysis, the Studios made only $62 million for the first 2 Spider-Man movies.[25]

In producing Marvel films in the 2000s, Avi Arad sought to capture the superheroes’ internal conflicts. According to The New York Times, "Mr. Arad's great accomplishment – and it is one, given the difficulties in transferring any kind of printed material to the big screen – is conveying what makes those heroes tick as characters... He works with the filmmakers to ensure that the heroes are conflicted, the villains motivated, the outcome shaded." In contrast to the original storylines of DC Comics’ Superman and Batman films, Marvel films were more directly inspired by their comics, copying from them set pieces, scenes, plots, and dialogue.[27]

Partnering with Lions Gate Entertainment in 2004, Marvel Studios plan to enter the direct-to-DVD market with eight animated films with Lionsgate handling distribution.[32][33] Eric Rollman was hired by Marvel as Executive Vice President, Home Entertainment & TV Production for Marvel Studios to oversee the deal with Lionsgate.[34]


In 2004, David Maisel was hired as chief operating officer of Marvel Studios as he had a plan for the studio to self-finance movies.[35] Marvel entered into a non-recourse financing structure with Merrill Lynch that is collateralized by certain movie rights to a total of 10 characters from Marvel's vast vault. Marvel gets $525 million to make a maximum of 10 movies based on the company's properties over eight years, according to the parameters of the original deal with Paramount Pictures in September 2004. Those characters were: Ant-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, Captain America, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Power Pack and Shang-Chi.[36][37] Ambac insured the movies would succeed or they would pay the interest payment on the debt and get the movie rights collateral.[25] In October 2005, Michael Helfant joined the studio as president and chief operating officer.[38] In November 2005, Marvel gained the film rights to Iron Man from New Line Cinema. Marvel revealed that it had regained the film rights to The Incredible Hulk in February 2006.[39] In April 2006 Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to Thor from Sony. That year the film was announced to be a Marvel Studios production.[40] Lions Gate Entertainment subsequently dropped the Black Widow motion picture project it had since 2004 giving the rights back to Marvel.[41] Masiel and Arad fought over the rate of movie releases and strength of characters in the movie line up. Perlmutter supported Masiel and thus, in May 2006, Arad quit as studio chair and CEO.[35] In March 2007, David Maisel was named Chairman and Kevin Feige was named President of Production as Iron Man began filming.[42]

In January 2008, Marvel Animation was incorporated to direct Marvel's efforts in animation and home entertainment markets including then animation efforts with Lionsgate and Nickelodeon.[34] The company in March agreed to a five picture basic cable distribution with FX for Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk movies with the additional movies to be named later.[43] In November, Marvel Studios signed a lease with Raleigh Studios to host its headquarters and production offices and film the next four movies on the studios’ slate, including Iron Man 2 and Thor, at their Manhattan Beach facilities.[44] By September 2008, Paramount added to its domestic film distribution contract 5 additional Marvel movies' foreign distribution.[45]

In 2009, Marvel attempted to hire a team of writers to help come up with creative ways to launch its lesser-known properties, such as Black Panther, Cable, Iron Fist, Nighthawk, and Vision.[46] In early 2009, Sony returned all Spider-Man television rights (including live action) in exchange for an adjustment to the movie rights.[47]

Disney conglomerate subsidiary[edit]

On December 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Both Marvel and Disney stated that the merger would not affect any preexisting deals with other film studios for the time being,[48] although Disney said they would distribute future Marvel projects with their own studios once the deals expired.[49]

In April 2010, rumors circulated that Marvel was looking to create $20–40 million movies based on properties such as Doctor Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Dazzler, and Power Pack.[50] Kevin Feige responded by saying, while budgets are generally never discussed early in development, Marvel was considering films for all characters mentioned in the rumor, except Dazzler, whose rights were at Fox.[51]

In June 2010, Marvel Entertainment set up a television division within Marvel Studios, headed up by Jeph Loeb as Executive Vice President,[52] under which Marvel Animation would be operated.[53] On October 18, Disney bought the distribution rights for Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures[54] with Paramount's logo remaining on the films.[55]

On August 22, 2011, at Disney's behest, the Studio dismissed most of its marketing department: Dana Precious, EVP of Worldwide Marketing; Jeffrey Stewart, VP of Worldwide Marketing and Jodi Miller, Manager of Worldwide Marketing. Disney markets Marvel's films.[56] In April 2012, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment announced an agreement to co-produce Iron Man 3 in China. DMG partly financed, produced in China with Marvel, and handled co-production matters. DMG also distributed the film in China in tandem with Disney.[57]

Upon the release of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, Disney and Sony negotiated a two-way agreement. Disney would receive full merchandising ancillary rights to future Spider-Man films in exchange for Sony purchasing out Marvel's film participation rights.[58]

In April 2013, Marvel Studios moved its production facilities from Manhattan Beach to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.[59]

On July 2, 2013, Disney purchased the distribution rights to Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger from Paramount.[60][61][62] In September 2014, TNT acquired the cable rights for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and three other films, to air on the network two years after their theatrical releases. The films had previously aired on FX since 2008.[63]

In February 2015, it was announced that Disney and Sony Pictures will collaborate on the next Spider-Man films, the first of which is set to be released on July 28, 2017. Former Sony executive Amy Pascal will co-produce the films with Kevin Feige. The film rights to Spider-Man will still remain with Sony.[64][65]

In August 2015, Marvel Studios was integrated into the Walt Disney Studios, with Feige reporting directly to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn instead of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. Marvel Television and Marvel Animation were left under Marvel Entertainment and Perlmutter's control.[3][66]

Character rights[edit]

Marvel had licensed out the film rights to many of their characters to other studios in the 1990s, starting with the X-Men to 20th Century Fox in 1993.[14] One of the first rights to return was Black Panther's rights, which were returned to Marvel in 2005, having previously been at Columbia and Artisan Entertainment.[67] In November 2005, Marvel gained the film rights to Iron Man from New Line Cinema.[39] In April 2006, Thor's rights reverted to Marvel from Sony,[40] and in June, the Black Widow rights reverted to Marvel from Lions Gate Entertainment.[41] That same year, the film rights to Hulk reverted to Marvel Studios from Universal Studios, after the latter failed to enter production on a sequel to Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk film. Universal, however, retained the right of first refusal to distribute future Hulk films.[68]

After being acquired by Disney, Marvel began to reclaim more of their character rights, starting with Blade from New Line Cinema.[69] In August 2012, it was reported that 20th Century Fox was willing to allow the film rights to the superhero Daredevil and his related characters revert to Marvel and Disney, a contracted stipulation that required Fox to begin production on a new Daredevil film by late 2012. Fox had approached Marvel about extending the deadline and becoming a co-financier for the film, but was rebuffed.[70][71] On October 10, 2012, the Daredevil film rights reverted to Marvel Studios, which was confirmed by studio president Kevin Feige on April 23, 2013.[72] On May 2, 2013, Feige confirmed in an interview that the Ghost Rider and Punisher rights had reverted to Marvel from Sony and Lions Gate respectively, as well as reaffirming the acquisition of the Blade rights.[73] It was later revealed in May 2013 that Marvel has also reacquired the rights to Luke Cage from Sony.[74] In an interview with Collider in early May 2013, Kevin Feige stated he believed the Elektra rights were back at Marvel through the Daredevil deal.[75] In November 2013, Marvel Television announced it was developing television series based on Luke Cage and Daredevil.[76] In February 2015, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures announced that Spider-Man would appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the character appearing in an MCU film and Sony releasing a Spider-Man film produced by Feige and Pascal on July 28, 2017. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films. Marvel Studios will also explore opportunities to integrate other characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into future Spider-Man films.[77] In June 2015, Feige clarified that the initial Sony deal does not allow Spider-Man to appear in any of the MCU television series, as it was "very specific... with a certain amount of back and forth allowed."[78]

After the licensing agreement with Sony that allowed Marvel to have the use of Spider-Man in their shared film universe,[77] the only rights that Marvel Studios does not have access to are the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchise of characters at 20th Century Fox.[79] Additionally, Marvel CCO Joe Quesada in 2012 believed Namor's rights had reverted to Marvel, but Feige said in August 2013 this was not so.[80] However, Feige expanded in July 2014 saying that Marvel Studios, not Universal Pictures or Legendary Pictures, could make a Namor film, "but it’s slightly more complicated than that. Let’s put it this way – there are entanglements that make it less easy. There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it. As opposed to an Iron Man or any of the Avengers or any of the other Marvel characters where we could just put them in."[81]

Marvel Knights[edit]

See also: Marvel Knights

Named after corporate sibling Marvel Comics' imprint of the same name, Marvel Knights is also the name given to a production arm of Marvel Studios intended to be used to produce some of Marvel's darker and lesser known titles. The first film produced under the Marvel Knights banner was Punisher: War Zone, the 2008 release that rebooted the Punisher franchise. In 2012, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was the second title to be released under that banner.[citation needed]


  • Avi Arad
    • Marvel Films President and CEO, 1993 – August 1996
    • Marvel Studios Chairman and CEO, August 1998 – May 2006
  • Jerry Calabrese
  • David Maisel
    • Chief Operating Officer, 2004 – September 2005[38]
    • Vice Chairman, September 2005 - September 27, 2006[82]
    • Chairman and CEO, March 2007 – 2010
  • Michael Helfant, President and Chief Operating Officer, October 2005[38]
  • Kevin Feige, President of Production, March 2007 – present[42]
  • Tim Connors, Chief Operating Officer, December 12, 2008 -[83]



Logo animation (2013–), featuring the Marvel Studios fanfare (0:28).

Starting with the release of Spider-Man in 2002, Marvel Studios introduced its "flipbook" logo, created by Imaginary Forces.[87] This logo was accompanied with music from the film's score, sound effects or a song, to lead into the beginning of the film. This was the logo seen in front of all films until 2013, when the logo was updated with the release of Thor: The Dark World, again created by Imaginary Forces. Kevin Feige stated that since Marvel was now their own entity within The Walt Disney Company, it "felt like the time to update it and have something that is more substantial as a standalone logo in front of our features" instead of having it be accompanied by Marvel's studio or distribution partners' logos. Feige added that “We didn’t want to re-invent the wheel [with the new logo], but we wanted it to feel bigger, to feel more substantial, which is why it starts with the flip, but suddenly it’s more dimensional as we go through the lettering and it reveals itself with the metallic sheen before settling into the white-on-red, well known Marvel logo, with the added flourish of the arrival and the announcement of the Studios at the bottom of the word Marvel.”[88] Imaginary Forces used the same animation technique on the updated logo, as they did when they created the first version in 2002. They were given a few hundred comic books to select images from, ultimately choosing 120 that were "universal and not specific to one character" and created a narrative "where each image spoke to the one before it and after."[87]

The new logo appears on all subsequent studio productions set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the addition of the new logo, Marvel Studios also added a fanfare to accompany the logo, composed by Brian Tyler, who wrote the scores to Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.[88]

Production library[edit]

See also[edit]


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